photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

Posts tagged “photography

Dean’s List!

I’m in a ridiculously good mood: I just found out that I made the Dean’s List again this semester. SO stoked. In the past, I wanted to make the Dean’s List solely for bragging rights (I can admit to that), but now, I have to make the Dean’s List or there’s no going forward. When I begin working on my Master’s degree- just around the corner- there’ll be no such thing as “making a C”. If you receive a C in psychology at the Master’s level, you’re automatically expelled from the program. Yep; anything less than a B- and you’re considered a failure. So, I set the bar really high for myself every semester because I have to. But my semester’s finally over, and I have until July 7th to relax and enjoy my summer (and work on my photography & art). It’s OVER! 🙂

Digitally rendered watercolour on washi paper/ Bernheim Forest- Clermont, Kentucky
Bejeweledwashipaper


To All of You

…who are just finishing up your semesters- students and teachers alike- congratz to you!

And although I’m bowing out of the academic race to pursue my photography/art, I do hope that each of you continues to do well in your studies and teachings. All of my final grades are in and it’s going to be a close call, but I think I might’ve made the Dean’s List. More on that later.

Maggie, congratzs to you, and Y, you too. WE DID IT. 🙂

PortabellasMJ


Bounty

Image

Helios film lens 44-2/Josh holding mulberries


Bimonthly Selfie

ImageSelfie-Shot in kitchen window lighting/1.17.14- Helios 44-2 film lens/Digital Rebel/manual

Lighting is your friend, ladies!
Seeing how I’ve been getting all this extra attention lately, I thought it a good time to make a post about how to take a good selfie (technically speaking). Anybody that knows me truly knows that:

a.) I don’t take myself too seriously. Ever.
b.) I look 20 years younger than I actually am, thanks to Photoshop. (I’m 44.)
c.) I don’t shave my legs and I really don’t care. (But that’s beside the point.)

Normally, I stay oblivious to my “audience” and rarely write for others. Not that I have anything against that, I’m particularly too lazy to keep up with all of the hooplah and riffraff. But tonight, I decided to address selfies and lighting and that sort of thing, because, who doesn’t have a few bad selfies lying around? (I have hundreds.) Not that I’m a narcissist, I’m a photographer: there’s a difference. (Not really.) But if you have a guy-friend that pilfers through your hard drive like I used to do with my ex’s, then you can just tell him “you’re a photographer” and he won’t think twice about it.

I have a bit of a cheap wine hangunder at the moment, so I’ll keep this list short and sweet. I know there are all sorts of one-click filters out there to make you look all selfielicious and everything, but if you stick to these pointers, I promise you, you’ll cut a few corners, save time, and look a heck of a lot better.

  • Go into the light!
    Find a “window light” source. It doesn’t have to be fancy; everything I do is cheap and at a fraction of the cost that others spend. Natural window lighting is the best light in the world for selfies- I promise! Don’t use midday lighting: it’s harsh and will either blast your pupils, simulating an unflattering meth-addiction, or it’ll highlight your shadows and age you instead. (You don’t want that.) The best time for good-selfie lighting is early morning to midday (just before noon), and late afternoon to early evening. Also, apart from professional and expensive lighting, nothing puts beautiful catchlights in your eyes like a window. (See pic above.)
  • Embrace your flaws
    As you can see in my selfie, I’m make-up free and alright with showing a few lines and pores. It’s naturalGuys want to sleep with Barbie but they really don’t want to take her to lunch. Don’t be a Barbie.
  • Look like you’re going to kick somebody’s ass
    This is my go-to look that works for most pictures. It’s alright to smile! But this is always good to fall back on and believe me, you’re going to need to fall back on this at some point.
  • Stretch your face muscles before a shoot. Mimic the word “WOW” in excess, raising your eyebrows simultaneously; it’s a little weird at first, but it loosens up the expression and circulates the blood. Do this about 50 times, and really, it’s good do get in the habit of doing this daily because it tightens up the facial muscles. (I’ve done it for years.) After you’re finished, your face will relax into a “default” comfortable expression. If that doesn’t work, look like you’re going to kick somebody’s ass.
  • Keep the camera slightly above your head, point your chin down a hair, and lock your eyes into place.
    There’s nothing worse that enlarged nostrils, double chins, and bad angles. Keeping the camera above your head slightly (preferably at 3/4ths of an angle) will flatter your angles.

There you have it.
You’re welcome!


Conjecture

I’ve decided that I need a vacation. I’m considering:

  • Turkey (Cappadocia, in particular: the “Land of Fairy Chimneys” and Star Wars-like lunar landscapes)
  • Morocco (Marrakesh & Casablanca- and a desert trek on camel’s back to stay in a smelly tent with indigenous desert tribes in the Sahara- Heaven!)
  • Puerto Rico, AKA “Zombie Island” (due to a startling rise in the number of krokodil recipients). Krokodil is a flesh-eating drug that drug abusers shoot up: they then wander around the island in a semi-comatose trance (or, fully-induced) and do things like stumble into traffic begging for change, or, shove their intestines back into their abdominal cavities as they wander off in search of more of the drug; I’ve seen both in documentaries.

I’ve told a select few that I’m considering Puerto Rico, as I’ve researched the place for years and is in large part why I’ve studied Spanish for the past year; they think I’ve completely lost it because I want to venture off to a place that’s loaded with drug addicts. Hello…the town I live in is loaded with drug addicts who are multiplying rapidly due to the pill mill on the main strip! People stumble around in their pj’s here- doped up- glazed look in their eyes, robbing the Dollar Tree. How high do you have to be to rob the Dollar Tree? I’ve spent my whole life in this area: I’m used to drug addicts.

And really, after dealing with these people all the time, I could use a break- switch up the drug addicts for a change.

Also though, I’m drawn to the El Yunque Rain Forest located near white-sanded Luquillo Beach. I’ve spoken with a woman who owns chalets there in the rain forest: 15 minutes down a jungle path leads you to a waterfall that you can swim in. There’s a hammock on the chalet deck which allows one to relax while listening to the Coqui frogs that fill the night air with their croaks and stories of all the others who were ever there on the deck, sipping a chilled Corona. I want to hear them.

I told my daughter once: “We have $1,000. Pick a city. Wherever you choose- we’re going.” She chose New York City, New York. (I wasn’t expecting that one!) But, I made arrangements and booked the Crowne Plaza on Broadway of Times Square/Manhattan (with wrap-around views of NYC- amazing…) and we drove right into that mug like we owned the place: fresh from Podunk, Indiana! The New Jersey Turnpike threw us off for a minute, but we regained our bearings quickly and found our hotel without (major) incident. It was cold freezing, but we dined on Broadway, toured Times Square at night, and sampled the broad spectrum of ethnic cuisines that New York City is known for.

Apart from having her camera pick-pocketed during a trip to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), we I had the time of our lives my life and was able to shoot Times Square at night: a dream-come-true for a photographer.

So yes, I can feel it in my bones that I’m getting ready to jump ship and fly somewhere halfway around the world. I have to scrub the disease of 2013 off my skin and out of my hair…

I’m going to have to squeeze my vacation into my next semester somehow. My spring semester and work on my 2nd degree (A.S. in Social Work) begins January 13. My four new classes are:

Biology: Connections and Impacts
Elements of Economics
Intro to Social Work
Human Behavior in the Social Environment

Let’s get this party started!

Museum of Modern Art- NYC/Man in hallways- stairs
Sigma 17-70/Canon Rebel

Image

View from Crowne Plaza Hotel- overlooking Broadway in Times Square/Manhattan/NYC
[Sitting on business desk- Indian style/Sigma 17-70- Canon Rebel]

Image


Turkey Bones

Turkey Bones

White clean
Two lovers
Eternally embraced

Lying together
On their mirrored bed of hot silver
Goblets of wine at their feet
They have waited
For their annual feast

Conjoined twins
Twisted at birth
Cartilaged duo
Greedy hands cannot wait
To rip you apart

Destroy and sever you
Ugly dry bones that are good for nothing
But picking at the teeth of an angry fat man

And in the end
You’ve made his dreams come true

Image


Flatline

I woke up this morning to a sink full of pee. Also, there are two rolls of toilet paper missing. I scroll through my mental rolodex of people, friends, animals, and other beings who have been in this place for the past 24 hours. What could this mean?

It’s kind of like the game Clue, except the wrench or gun has been replaced with a sink of pee. Josh thinks our dog did it. He does sometimes climb up on the counter (over the sink) and tear into the trash. Yes, yes, perhaps. Could he have peed in the sink? It’s possible. But the two rolls of toilet paper. How could they have simply vanished? No traces of their whereabouts. 

These are things that I can ponder over the next twelve days without the internet. I’ve been stashing game and entertainment folders like a hoarder preparing for the apocalypse. Twelve days without the internet! That’s a lifetime. I’ve been chained to this bed and laptop for days- knocking out assignment after assignment. Criminology final- check. Cultural essay (with MLA citations) in Spanish II- check. Five remaining assignments in Lifetime Fitness and Wellness- check. I’ve knocked back 4 classes (and my finals) a month early in preparation for the internet crash. I remember taking pictures outside…and shadows! I like shadows! Two more days of school madness and it’s over. I’m hobbling through the finish line but dang it, I made it.

Image

 

 

I’ll be back with stories of my graduation. Until then, farewell all!
♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻♪♥☺♫☼☻


Rejected: Get Used to it, Kid!

So I just received my second rejection. The first was from the Beliot Poetry Journal  (which was really sweet of the editor to tell me that although they were going to pass on my “self-confessional PSYCH ward poetic experience” he’s glad I’ve survived all of the things I’ve been through- haha…love that) and the second was from The New Yorker- a different poem entirely.

I won’t lie. The first one stung. Like a bee. Right in the head. (Obviously, it hit the ego more than the heart, but at least I’m aware of this.) What, I have an ego? YES. I frikking have an ego! Guh…it gets old. I’m fairly certain any artist, musician, or writer knows damn well what I’m talking about. There’s a fine line between wanting to share your art and wanting to feed your ego: this is the truth and it’s how it is. As artists, we like to dress things up like that old beast just doesn’t exist and we simply “are driven to create!” but what drives us? If we’re honest, we’ll acknowledge that at least sometimes, it’s the ego. If we’re in denial, we’ll say, “it’s just something I feel I have to do!” (Etc.)

So, there’s always that battle: self vs. art vs. self and striving to be more than simply wanting to get that little stroke that pushes you to your next piece. This is what I’m always thinking of when I submit new art somewhere: what am I searching for? Simply sharing this piece? What is my message? Am I imparting enough of myself in this piece so that people can feel it? I need to be saying something. Yes, the “praise” and the feedback come with the territory- that does feel like a warm, squishy blanket of “acceptance”- sure it does, but I want to know that I’m making an impression on somebody and adding something- no matter how small- to their lives, or the way they think, see, and feel.

Which brings me back to rejection. As in, “rejected by editors”. Maybe I’m a bit of a sadist, but I’m celebrating being rejected. Yes, I’m serious! I was rejected from the New Yorker,-come on…it’s The New Yorker for crying out loud. Being rejected from The New Yorker is a rite of passage. While the first rejection stung (get over yourself, kid!) I was completely elated by the 2nd one. Tickled. Serious tickled, because although I’ve been writing since I was a teenager (poems, songs, short stories, etc.) and have never had any education there at all- even having dropped out of high school in the 10th grade- I’m still acutely aware of my own ignorance as a writer, and, a poet. By claiming total ignorance, I can open my eyes and mind and have the necessary depth to fill in with an education in Creative Writing. Because I’m going into this saying “I know nothing”, I can learn so much more. Ego deflated!

I’ve created a Poem folder on my laptop, and also, a “Rejection” folder. It’s the rejection folder that will drive me in my art and work far more than any other. It’s proof that I have tried and do try and will not stop trying. I’m copying and pasting every rejection into that folder (dated, filed away).

Failure is nothing more than proof that you have tried. 

I also entered my first short story competition last night- the top prize is $3,000. That one is going to hurt. Ha. But, it’s being slapped down in life that I have turned into an art form, so, the more rejections I receive (and there will be plenty); the more food for more art. It’s a self-sustaining cycle but one that holds valuable lessons for me, and I cherish them dearly.

Image


High Notes

I’m headed out into the rain for an impromptu photo shoot. I’ll be going to Bernheim Forest- beautiful place. I’m not satisfied with the shadows vs. highlights in my pics- I think I need to drop my AP and increase my ISO- I want heavy blacks. Yeah, these are the things that I ponder much of the time. :0) 

I received a super special email from my Health Psychology instructor; it made me cry. It said:

For assignment three; 
Your work continues to be excellent.  Your answers to each item were complete, supported, reasonable, and demonstrated understanding of the key concepts.  It appears your absorption of the health related information will not only help you but, as an example and source of information, those whom you affect personally and/or in your career.  It is a pleasure to have such a capable student.

 

Image

Homeless man wanders off with Josh’s change, and his booze.
Louisville, KY- 50 MM/natural lighting/manual

 


Early Morning Speakeasy

Image

“Third Base” biker bar- early Sunday morning drive-by/50 MM natural lighting/manual

There’s something about typing late at night that’s so very gratifying. Maybe it’s the “me time”, I don’t know. Josh is sitting beside me and everything in life has fallen back into place. It’s funny how that goes; all of the “normal everyday things” that one simply expects to be there over time are there, and they’re very small things not even worth mentioning. But take those little “connectors” away- those small unmentionables and it shakes the very foundation of all that is solid in your life. This proves to me that it IS the little things that are most important to me. When they’re gone- everything changes down to the very way you perceive the world to be. When Josh and I are tight, as we are now- the world is “doable”. I’m careful to give him his space and am even suggesting he get a shed so he can have a bit of a man-cave going on. (Guys need a “safe place” to go where there are no women. It’s funny to think about, but it’s so very true. I support him in those endeavors fully.)

The construction trailer outside didn’t work out so well. The new management approached us and gave us a 2 hour warning to move it or lose it. They had already called the police and a tow truck. We were in a bit of a jam, but that’s when I’m at my best, not surprisingly. Maybe it’s all of those McGuyver episodes (or the hundreds of adventure games I’ve played over the years) but I like to get creative and resourceful with practically nothing. We called the Uhaul facility- they had no trucks with a hitch at the moment. After several other phone calls, we were able to find a guy that hauled it away to storage at the drop of a dime. Josh would have lost his trailer for good- it would have just been too expensive to try and retrieve it. Darn it. That means he’ll have to actually stay INSIDE here with me. (I’ll try to not be disappointed.)

I wonder what Josh thinks about me sitting here typing all of our business to the world. 🙂 He’s a good sport.

We have to be up at 8 in the morning- there just aren’t enough hours in the day! Josh is getting ready to start his semester also- I love it when we’re both in school at the same time. He’s working on General Studies for now but he’s considering moving in the direction of Physics. (He and his sister are both terribly smart.)

I have a Health Psychology assignment to do first thing when I get up and after that, a Public Speaking assignment + 25 more pre-calculus problems and that’s all before 10:00 a.m.! Life is a blur.

But at least I’m using exclamation points again so hey- it’s not all bad.

🙂

And smiley faces.

xo